And then he spoke, and she knew at once that her wild accusation had in no way hurt him. “You think that, do you?” he said, and his tone sounded to her as though he barely repressed a laugh. “Awfully nice of you! I wonder what exactly you take me for.”
She did not keep him in suspense on that point. If she had never had the strength to tell him before, she could tell him now.
“I take you for a fiend!” she cried hysterically. “I take you for a fiend!”
He turned sharply from her, so sharply that she was conscious of a moment’s fear overmastering her madness. But instantly, with his back to her, he spoke, and her brief misgiving was gone.
“It doesn’t matter much now what you take me for,” he said, and again in the cracked notes of his voice she seemed to hear the echo of a laugh. “You won’t need to seek any more protectors so far as I am concerned. You will never see me again unless the gods ordain that you should come and find me. It isn’t the way of an eagle to swoop twice—particularly an eagle with only one wing.”
The laugh was quite audible now, and she never saw how that one hand of his was clenched and pressed against his side. He had reached the door while he was speaking. Turning swiftly, he cast one flickering, inscrutable glance towards her, and then with no gesture of farewell was gone. She heard his receding footsteps die away while she struggled dumbly to quell the tumult of her heart.
Late that evening a scribbled note reached Muriel from Dr. Jim.
“You can do nothing whatever,” he wrote. “Daisy is suffering from a sharp attack of brain fever, caused by the shock of her cousin’s death, and I think it advisable that no one whom she knows should be near her. You may rest assured that all that can be done for her will be done. And, Muriel, I think you will be wise to go to Mrs. Langdale as you originally intended. It will be better for you, as I think you will probably realise. You shall be kept informed of Daisy’s condition, but I do not anticipate any immediate change.”
She was glad of those few words of advice. Her anxiety regarding Daisy notwithstanding, she knew it would be a relief to her to go. The strain of many days was telling upon her. She felt herself to be on the verge of a break-down, and she longed unspeakably to escape.
She went to her room early on her last night at Weir, but not in order to rest the longer. She had something to do, something from which she shrank with a strange reluctance, yet which for her peace of mind she dared not leave neglected.
It was thus she expressed it to herself as with trembling fingers she opened the box that contained all her sacred personal treasures.
It lay beneath them all, wrapped in tissue-paper, as it had passed from his hand to hers, and for long she strove to bring herself to slip the tiny packet unopened into an envelope and seal it down—yet could not.